Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Apples of February (2011)

The second-best apple I had this cold bleak month was a Granny Smith from the West Coast: crisp, tart, satisfying.

The best was a surprise Macoun from Albany via New York City. My wife and daughter brought it back from the St. Stephen's Greenmarket on Manhattan's east side.

Macoun has been off the menu here in Boston for months this year. It does not surprise me, though, that some New York growers still have good ones in storage, or that they should find their way to the Big Apple. I'm guessing this one grew at Samascott Orchards, just south of Albany.

In any case it was a real treat, crisp, floral, vinous, and spicy, in another month when my part of the world really felt the poverty of last fall's harvest.

I did enjoy some crisp Ambrosias early in February, and was pleased to discover San Rosé, new to me, in stores briefly. But there were no Pacific Rose apples this year, and though the Piñatas had good flavor their texture was disappointingly tender. It's funny how much difference that makes.

Even stalwart Empire, usually so reliable, was below par. So that Macoun my wife and I shared on the last day of February was a special treat.

If you are reading this in some future February and wondering what apples to buy, you might get a better picture from my 2010 post about what to eat in February, or even March, April, or May. These are all months when we eat apples from storage and have roughly the same choices.

I shall now praise Granny Smith, not for the first time. In midwinter, when all the apples in the supermarket seem to be piling into the same narrow sugary niche, Granny offers assertive refreshing flavors and a great texture.

Michael Phillips is not kind to Granny, but as Kevin Hauser notes, she a true heirloom and the oldest of the year-round industrial pantheon.

Anything grown and distributed that widely will vary in quality, but a good Granny is a real treat.


  1. The seller at St Stephens has good stuff, tons of varieties.

    and yup, the Macoun's are killer, even in march. dont give away the secret.


  2. Brad, well taken, but in our cutthroat market economy, secrecy could lead to obscurity and then to getting torn out by the roots to make way for Honeycrisp.

    That's in Nova Scotia, but New York's very own senior Senator last year filed legislation to copy Nova Scotia's Honecrisp program, sparking a subsidy war with Nova Scotia (which responded by renewing its program).

    So I say, let's not have Macoun hide itself under a bushel basket. The more people like that apple, the safer it will be.

  3. just kidding. its only when the supplies get low us locals have to get down and dirty :)

    i think i sent you that Schumer piece way back when...


  4. Brad sends me interesting apple info from time to time and very probably is the person who told me of Senator Shumer's apple legislation last year. Thanks, Brad.

    Anyone who'd like to email me directly, by the way, can do so through the link on my profile page. But it's nice to get comments on the blog too.


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